Mountains, Places To Visit, Things To Do

Ultimate Travel Guide For Nubra Valley, Ladakh

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Pawan Khatri

Nubra Trip Guide

Nubra Valley is easily one of the most beautiful places that one can visit in India. Surrounded by snowcapped mountains all around and lush green vegetation that can be spotted alongside sand dunes and cold desert with rivers streams flowing in between. It is indeed one of the most unique combination that you can find in a landscape. The valley is located at an average altitude of about 10000 ft and Diskit Town can be considered as its centre. In this blog, we will cover the most important aspects that deserve your attention while planning a trip to the heavenly Nubra Valley.

Best Time To Travel

Each season has a different vibe and feel when it comes to Nubra Valley. It essentially boils down to what kind of travel do you prefer. Usually monsoons in August-September and extreme winters in November to February are not advisable due to land slides and sub zero temperatures respectively. The pros and cons of each season can help you decide which one suits you the most –

Usual Tourist Season – May to July

The destination becomes slightly crowded during this time but facilities, accommodation and transport options operate at full potential offering ease of travel. Nubra Valley is a cold relief from scorching heat waves prevalent in most parts of India during this time. The sun can be brutal though and sunburns get to you despite loads of sunscreen. All roads and routes are open in this time and tourists rarely face road blocks.

Less Crowd – Mid March & April

This is what I personally find “Ideal” as a period to plan a trip to Nubra Valley. The landscapes just look a lot better when there are less people around. The stays are almost fully open but tourist influx is still low, this can lead to discounts if you’re good at negotiation. You will also end up saving money in transportation such as taxis, bike rentals etc. simply because there is more supply than demand.

Winters – November to February

You might choose to avoid this season if you’re not someone who is accustomed to low temperatures. The entire valley is covered in a snow blanket during this time and there’s high risk of road blocks due to extreme snow. There are fewer accommodation and food options that operate in this season and that translates to high trip costs. The overall vibe is very unique and despite the hardships, this season has got it’s own charm. You can read about Winter Ladakh experience of Pashmina on her blog thegonegoat to get a better idea of navigating this valley during extreme winters.

Permits

An inner line permit is required to explore restricted parts of Ladakh including this one. The permit is checked at various check points along the route. The same can be procured from the DC Office in leh city. The list of required documents for the permit include –

  • Indian Nationals – Valid identity proof (driving license, passport, election card, aadhar card, pan card).
  • Foreign Nationals – Valid Passport with visa or OCI Card
  • Filled Application Form
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Cost – INR 500 Fixed + INR 20 Per Day. Spending a few extra bucks can save you the hassle of going by yourself to the DC office. Your hotel/accommodation manager would easily be able to get the permit for you at around 1000-1200 INR.

Processing Time – 1 Day

How to Reach

The standard route to reach Nubra Valley is from Leh City. The route goes like – Leh City – South Pullu Khardungla Pass – North Pullu – Khalsar – Diskit. The entire stretch is about 116 kms and can take you approximately 5-6 hours depending upon how many and duration of stops you take in between. It is advisable to leave Leh at around 9-9:30 AM to be able to travel at a slow pace and soak in the majestic landscapes along the route. Target reaching diskit before sunset, delay sorting your stay in hundar and rather visit the Diskit monastery during sunset. I’m sure you’ll thank me later for the Diskit Monastery Sunset Experience.

Transportation

You can choose to rent taxis from Leh, take your own vehicle from Leh to Nubra or rent bikes from local rental bike shops. The rental cost of bikes can vary depending upon the season but it is usually around 1200-1500 Per Day depending on which bike you choose i.e. Classic 350 or Himalayan. The taxis are very expensive usually. If you’re good at driving bikes and are not travelling with family. Renting a bike makes the most sense.

Petrol Pumps

You would not have to bother about this if you’re renting a taxi. However, if you have rented a bike or you’re in your own vehicle, make sure you get your tanks full in Leh to avoid the scare of Diskit petrol pump being out of service. But recently, the Diskit Petrol Pump has become a lot more reliable.

Places to Visit – Nubra Holiday Guide

The entire stretch of the road trip is one accumulative experience. You would not have to walk that extra mile to visit a place as most spots are on the circuit itself.

Khardungla

As a starter, it is not the world’s highest motorable pass but it is hyped to be believed as one. Nevertheless, it is one of the most majestic passes. The feeling of driving in between snow capped mountains is unbeatable. The roads are well built for the most part while going up from Leh to Khardungla. However, the roads after Khardungla are average, not so great. The pass is of course at a very high altitude and prolonged stay at the top can make the AMS kick in. It is advisable to avoid staying for more than 30 minutes.

The Majestic Khardungla

Diskit Monastery

The Gigantic Lord Buddha statue is definitely worth a visit, it gets even better if you’re able to explore the same during sunset. Entire diskit town and even parts of hundar are clearly visible from the top. It just looks very beautiful, you cannot afford to miss it as part of Nubra Valley Trip.

Diskit Monastery – Make sure you visit this at Golden Hour

Hundar Sand Dunes

The sand dunes are usually crowded for most part of the day. Evening time is so crowded that it almost kills the natural vibe of the place. You will just see a swarm of people all around. The best hack requires some extra effort of waking up early in the morning and visiting the sand dunes. Around that time, it is the least crowded. We had been to this spot right after covid restrictions were lifted after the second wave, we were fortunate to have the entire place to ourselves and that is like super rare.

Hundar Sand Dunes

Things To Keep In Mind

It is good to be cautious about a few things before hand just to avoid the last minute panic right before leaving for the trip.

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Accommodation

There are a decent number of camps, hotels and retreats in Hundar. The average cost is almost about 1000-1200 INR per person including Dinner and Breakfast. Of course there are more expensive luxury options if your budget allows for the same.

Mobile Network

Prepaid phone networks from different states do not work in the entire Ladakh region. Postpaid phone networks however do work okay. The maximum coverage in the region is offered by BSNL. If you plan on staying in Ladakh for a prolonged period, you can try to buy a local prepaid sim card from leh market and that reportedly works just fine. The requirements are tricky and might require a local address proof (within Ladakh). The easiest solution is postpaid sim card.

ATMs

There are no ATMs in Hundar and Diskit. You should borrow the cash as required from the Leh City itself. There has been a new allegedly World’s Highest ATM by SBI at Khardungla Pass. Not sure about the availability of cash at the ATM.

Itinerary

Most tourists use Hundar and Nubra Valley as a night stay spot during the Pangong Lake Ladakh Circuit. However, the place is very charming and I would suggest you to spend more than a day here at least. If you’re not short on time, a three-four days unwinding break in Nubra Valley can be extremely rejuvenating. However, my itinerary looked something like this –

Day 1 – Leh to Hundar Via Khardungla Pass – 116 kms – 6-7 Hours.
Enjoy sometime at the Majestic Khardungla Pass and then head to Diskit Monastery at sunset en route to Hundar. Stay for the night at Hundar in a camp.

Day 2 – Hundar Sand Dunes – Shyok Valley – Pangong Lake – 240 kms – 7-8 hours.
Explore Hundar Sand Dunes early in the morning, set out for the Pangong Lake via direct route going through Shyok Valley. The landscapes keep on getting magical as you get close to Pangong. Stay for the night right beside Pangong Lake and enjoy stargazing. It is one of the best spots for night sky in India.

Day 3 – Pangong Lake to Leh Via Changla Pass- 223 kms – 7-8 hours.
Explore the lake early in the morning to avoid crowds. Head to 3 Idiots Spot for a picturesque view. If you have more time, head further to Merak. Turn Around and head to Leh via Changla Pass.

Conclusion

I have just started travelling since last year and have not really been to so many places to say this but so far, Nubra Valley is the prettiest place I have ever seen in my life till date. I would absolutely suggest you to give this place a shot if you are bored of the regular tourist destinations of our country. Everything is unique about this place, the culture, people, food, landscapes and simply the fact that at times you would find yourself alone in a very long stretch of road which in a densely populated country like India is very rare.

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